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Al-Kawthar Secondary School

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Al-Kawthar Secondary School
Situated in Beirut-Lebanon, Al-Kawthar School is a school which fosters a passion for learning, right from the moment students start preschool to the moment they graduate. The school’s curriculum enables every student to acquire the knowledge, skills and personal qualities needed to open doors to life-long opportunities and to progress to both university and work beyond. This year, our school has grown its approach to teaching essential skills, developed from British Council’s core skills. After finding out about the Universal Framework, we wanted the Skills Builder Global Accelerator program to help us build our students’ skills in a systematic way using the tools and methodologies.
Overall impact
We started with our own research to understand the program before the start of the Global Accelerator. Then we had our first strategy meeting. This provided us with the essential knowledge about the program and how to implement it. We then formed an administrative team to manage the Global Accelerator, including the director of each educational cycle and under the supervision of the Principal. Then a subcommittee was formed with teachers from each educational cycle. This meant we were able to closely monitor the project and share the training that was given by Skills Builder, providing teachers with assessment tools and ways to help their students build essential skills. After the initial training, individual student assessment was done by teachers alongside curriculum mapping. This showed us integrated and missing essential skills. We were then able to create and source suitable activities, some taken from the Skills Builder Hub, to add into the curriculum according to the age group and skill. We launched the initiative with students with a ‘Skills day’, where each educational cycle presented the idea of ​​skills to the students in an innovative and motivating way. Cycle directors also shared the new program with parents in the first parents’ meetings of the school year. The above steps helped in informing parents about the program and in raising awareness about these essential skills for both teachers and students.
Keep it simple
We started with talking walls displaying the icons and names of the skills all over the school. Our international school policy states that teaching essential skills is one of our goals, so it was important to get students engaged with the language. After the teacher training and curriculum mapping, we prepared activities for launching the ‘Skills day’ about each of the essential skills for all educational cycles. This resulted in all of our teachers having a common language of essential skills. After the launching day, students’ reflection showed that they started gaining an understanding of the skills, including the definition, importance and the steps of each essential skill. We continued from the day by celebrating with students across the whole school. They were encouraged though charts hung outside the classes, which showed the name of the student who was the ‘star of the cycle‘. We also used Homezone to inform parents of the project and their role with supporting their children to acquire these skills. We had regular meetings with the subcommittee members to check in on how the language of essential skills was being used by teachers. We also completed observations and learning walks to observe skills teaching across the school. Essential skills became part of our school’s policy on curriculum and we are looking to introduce the initiative across the wider Al-Mabarrat Association over the next year.
Start early, keep going
The program took place across the whole school with all cycles. As it is our first year in implementing this program in the school systematically, we divided the skills across the first two cycles so they only focused on two main skills according to their students’ needs. In the Secondary cycle, they focused on all skills to reinforce acquiring them throughout the year. Teachers were supported through training and the cycle teams to focus on how they made the skills accessible for learners of different ages.
Measure it
We ran two kinds of assessments across the year. One to measure students’ pre-knowledge and another to measure the development of essential skills. The second was run according to the two skills chosen in every cycle. Assessments were done for each individual student and were discussed by the cycle committees as class-level assessments. We used a variety of offline and online tools to support the assessments - including the Skills Builder Hub and offline individual-student assessments. All teachers completed assessments across the year. Teachers then used these results to plan further activities for students - a mixture of support and stretch.
Focus tightly
Teachers used assessments throughout the year to plan focused activities for their students. At the start of the year, cycle committees completed curriculum mapping to highlight and focus opportunities to embed essential skills and steps in all cycles and subject areas. This also allowed us to add new suitable activities where they were missing., All teachers timetabled sessions to build essential skills for each class and subject area, using the curriculum mapping to ensure the teaching and learning of the skill and step. Teachers wrote these into plans and shared them with the committees. These sessions would happen weekly.
Keep practising
As well as class teachers being training in the essential skills, we also supported the sport, theatre, art and social service teachers to be able to prepare and build essential skills in their sessions. In these sessions, students would be exposed to the skills and steps needed to be successful. By providing this training, we could then ensure skills were being built effectively in the wider curriculum. Celebrations and events at our school also gave all of our students opportunities to practise the skills when they are in front of an audience. Essential skills were highlighted and promoted through activities like the model United Nations, with a specific focus on problem solving, speaking, listening and creativity skills.
Bring it to life
Throughout the year, we held career exhibitions for all cycles to introduce students to the essentials skills needed in every career and emphasise the importance of each skill. We also supported students to take part in debates across different subjects and areas, getting learners to present on stage and publicly show the development of students’ subskills. We also ran events and projects across the school to highlight essential skills for students. We also completed a parent’s survey, in order to help in data collection about the use of essential skills outside of the school.
What's next
Next year, we will continue to implement the Skills Builder approach with all cycles teaching the 8 skills. We will also get pre- and post-assessments planned regularly in the yearly assessment calendar. We will also be focus on preparing our own resources in three languages that help contextualize our culture in teaching the essential skills and ensure that yearly educations plans embed the skills and steps in all cycles and subject areas We will also publicise our experience to all Al-Mabarrat schools in Lebanon and support them to embed the Skills Builder approach.